Quiet, Please
Introduction Episodes Listen Scripts Press Clippings Fan Forum Copyright Info Links

Harlan Ellison and Quiet Please

Comments on Harlan Ellison and Quiet Please
MS
Senior Member

Usergroup: Member
Joined: Mar 14, 2003

Total Topics: 72
Total Comments: 237
#1 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 05/08/08 - 7:10 PM:

Excerpts from _An Edge in My Voice_ by Harlan Ellison (University of Michigan, 1985):

... It was in the late Forties. See now this kid, Harlan, thirteen or fourteen years old, riding in the back seat of his mom and dad's green Plymouth, on a Sunday late afternoon. In those days the family "went for a ride." Nowhere special, just out for a ride. Nowhere special, just out for a leisurely spin to buy an ice cream cone, to drive into Mentor, Ohio where a certain ice cream parlor carried comic books the kid couldn't get in Painesville. See them, the three of them, Mom and Dad and the kid, driving along a country road in Ohio ... listening to the radio. [...]

See then: this kid Harlan and Mom and Dad, driving down Mentor Avenue, on a Sunday afternoon early in the Forties. And the radio spoke: "Quiet, please." A pause, heavy with expectation. Then, again, "Quiet, please.

The voice of Ernest Chappell. One of the great radio voices. A sound that combined urbanity with storytelling wisdom. And the show was on the Mutual Network; it was, of course, the legendary Quiet, Please, created by Wyllis Cooper.

I begged my mother and father to leave it on, not to change over to one of the more popular Sunday comedy shows; and they left the dial where it was, and I heard something that I have never forgotten, something I will share with you now. Ernest Chappell narrated Wyllis Cooper's scripts. The programs were backed up by sound effects and music (the theme was the 2nd movement of Franck's Symphony in D Minor, a work I cannot listen to, even today, without being thrilled to my toenails), but essentially it was Chappell, just speaking softly. Quietly. Terrifyingly.

What I heard that Sunday afternoon, so long ago, that has never left my thoughts for even one week, through all those years, was this:

"There is a place just five miles from where you now stand that no human eye has even seen. It is... five miles _down!"_

When I heard that, and even now when I say it at college lectures, even when I simply type it on a page, a chill takes possession of my spine.

And the story was wonderful. (I'm sure if I were to hear it now, forty years later, it might be woefully thin and unworthy of the weight I have put on it ... but I've managed to obtain recordings of the five or six shows that are still extant, and they are superb... so memory, this once, probably serves me well.)

It concerned a group of men working in the deepest coal mine in the world. (Coal mine? It's been forty years; it may have been a tin mine, or a diamond mine.) And they break through the floor of the mine and it turns out to be the ceiling, the roof, of the biggest cave in the world. I mean _big_! So gigantic that even the most powerful searchlights can't be seen down there. It just goes down and down. A stone, dropped through the hole, keeps falling ... there is no sound of its having landed. So they rig up something like a bathysphere, and a couple of guys are lowered in it and ... they're attacked by pterodactyls before they can reach the bottom! Now that's all I remember of the plot; but tell me something, troops: How many stories you heard or saw or read fifteen years ago, ten years ago, even five years ago, do you remember that clearly today?

And I heard "Five Miles Down" at least forty years ago. And it's still with me.

Still with me to the extent that very soon now I will be writing a story titled "Down Deep," which will open with Wyllis Cooper's basic idea, and go from there. Still with me to the extent that I have always loved the sound of dramatic readings and have learned my lessons well from Orson Welles and Wyllis Cooper and Ernest Chappell. ...





Edited by MS on 05/08/08 - 7:18 PM
Paul
Senior Member
Avatar

Usergroup: Webmaster
Joined: Dec 21, 2001
Location: Northern California

Total Topics: 32
Total Comments: 238
#2 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 05/10/08 - 5:39 PM:

Funny how little that resembles the actual story. He must've combined A Mile High and a Mile Deep with Gem of Purest Ray with a random pterodactyl from some other show.

How many stories you heard or saw or read fifteen years ago, ten years ago, even five years ago, do you remember that clearly today?

Quite a lot. Admitedly most of them I've heard since then too. But I remember when I was about 9 or 10 (~18 years ago) and heard If I Should Wake Before I Die... didn't hear it (or other QP) again until I was 19. And Lights Out's Oxychloride X made a big impression the first time I know.


In more recent history, I wish I could find copies of 60 Second Theater... it was a series of 60 second audio dramas online in the late 90's, long since vanished without a trace, or even a reference anywhere. I clearly remember the epic ten parter "The End of the World According to Dave". All I have left of the series are a couple of quotes I copied down at the time, like "I wonder to myself if someone has to come along with a broom after closing and sweep up all the words."

Edited by Paul on 05/10/08 - 5:57 PM
MS
Senior Member

Usergroup: Member
Joined: Mar 14, 2003

Total Topics: 72
Total Comments: 237
#3 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 05/11/08 - 6:23 PM:

Hmm. It looks like Ellison was remembering a lost episode of The Mysterious Traveler. The "Five Miles Down" script was broadcast twice on that series (in 1947 and '50). A few years ago, he apparently participated in a recreation at a SPERDVAC (Society to Preserve and Encourage Radio Drama, Variety, and Comedy) convention, according to this excerpt from a 2004 issue of "Feline Mewsings" (described as "a personalzine / newsletter published more or less quarterly by R-Laurraine Tutihasi" in California):

__________________________
We were treated to recreations of two radio shows afterward. The first was an episode of The Mysterious Traveler titled "Five Miles Down". Apparently there are no existing recordings of the original broadcast. Harlan Ellison, who acted and helped direct the show, said he remembers hearing this episode when he was growing up. ...
__________________________


Paul
Senior Member
Avatar

Usergroup: Webmaster
Joined: Dec 21, 2001
Location: Northern California

Total Topics: 32
Total Comments: 238
#4 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 05/16/08 - 10:43 AM:

Can't say any episode of The Mysterious Traveler leaves that much of an impression on me... it's decently entertaining but never rises above mediocrity.
Jeremiah
New

Usergroup: Member
Joined: Mar 18, 2009
Location: Mount Vernon, Kentucky

Total Topics: 1
Total Comments: 3
#5 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 03/18/09 - 11:31 PM:

Actually, I became aware of the existence of Quiet, Please! through an Ellison short story---"Jeffty is Five." And so a fine story lead me to a fine old radio program.

Quietly yours,

Jeremiah
Jeremiah
New

Usergroup: Member
Joined: Mar 18, 2009
Location: Mount Vernon, Kentucky

Total Topics: 1
Total Comments: 3
#6 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 03/18/09 - 11:33 PM:

Paul wrote:
Can't say any episode of The Mysterious Traveler leaves that much of an impression on me... it's decently entertaining but never rises above mediocrity.


Ah, but don't you love that lonesome whistle?
monsterwax
Junior Member
Avatar

Usergroup: Member
Joined: Mar 20, 2005
Location: Tallahassee, Fl

Total Topics: 4
Total Comments: 20
#7 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 05/04/09 - 7:29 PM:

Quiet Please is my favorite series, but Mysterious Traveler was a different bird and really shouldn't be compared to Quiet Please because that's like the old apples and oranges comparison. Mysterious Traveler was more tongue and cheek, with the host acting more like Count Floyd compared to the Rod Serling type of host that Quite Please had. The Traveler always tried a little too hard to be creepy and would sign off while building up to some horrible revelation that... "Oh, you have to get off here? I'm sorry. But perhaps we'll meet again... I take this same train every week at this time...."

I would say Mysterious Traveler could often seem mediocre compared to Quiet Please, but compared to most the other horror series of the day, it was usually much better than average. I never remember hearing an episode in which I lost interest-- and there were plenty of other shows that did let my mind wonder. That being said, it rarely made you think a lot about it after the show was over, like Quiet Please did.
Download thread as
  • 0/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5



Sorry, you don't have permission to post. Log in, or register if you haven't yet.